Battle of Lake Champlain

11th September 1814
Part of : The War of 1812 (1812 - 1814)
Previous action : Action of 1814-08-27 27th August 1814
Next action : Attack on Fort Bowyer 15th September 1814

 

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland

 
Ship NameGunsCommanderNotes
Confiance 36George Downie41 killed, 83 wounded Captured
Niagara 16Daniel Pring
 

United States of America

 
Ship NameGunsCommanderNotes
Allen 2William M Robins
Borer 2Thomas Anderson Conover
Wilmer 1Daniel S Stellwagen
 

Sources

IDDescriptionAuthorType
Previous comments on this page

Posted by Brian on Monday 19th of May 2014 14:26

Plattsburg Bay, Lake Champlain, Sept. 12
Sir, the painful task of making you acquainted with the circumstances attending the capture of his Majesty's squadron, yesterday, by that of the Americans, under Commodore McDonough , it grieves me to state, becomes my duty to perform, from the ever to be lamented loss of that worthy and gallant officer, Capt. Downie, who unfortunately fell early in the action. In consequence of the earnest solicitation of his Excellency Sir George Prevost for the cooperation of the naval force on this lake to attack that of the enemy who were placed for the support of their works at Plattsburg., which it was proposed should be stormed by the troops at the same moment that the naval action should commence in the bay; every possible exertion was used to accelerate the armament of the new ship, that the military movements might not be postponed at such an advanced season of the year, longer than was absolutely necessary. On the 3d instant, I was directed to proceed in company of the flotilla of gun boats to protect the left flank of our army advancing towards Plattsburg, and, on the following day, after taking possession and paroling the militia of the Isle of Motte, I caused a battery of three long 18 pounder guns to be constructed for the support of our position abreast of Little Chazy, where the supplies for the army were ordered to be landed. The fleet came up on the 8th inst. but for want of stores for the equipment of the guns, could not move forward until the 11th. at day-light we weighed, and at seven we were in full view of the enemy's fleet, consisting of a ship, brig, schooner, and one sloop, moored in line, abreast of their encampment, with a division of five gun-boats on each flank; at forty minutes past seven, after the officers commanding vessels and the flotilla had received their final instructions as to the plan of attack, we made sail in order of battle. Capt. Downie had determined on laying his ship athwart-hause of the enemy's, directing Lieut. McGhee, of the Chubb, to support me in the Linnet, in engaging the brig to the right, and Lieut. Hicks of the Finch, with the flotilla of gun-boats, to attack the schooner and sloop on the left of the enemy's line. At eight, the enemy's gun-boats and smaller vessels commenced a heavy and galling fire on our line; at ten minutes after eight, the Confiance, having two anchors shot away from her starboard bow, and the wind baffling, was obliged to anchor (though not in the situation proposed) within two cables length of her adversary; the Linnet and Chubb soon afterwards took their allotted stations, something short of that distance, when the crews on both sides cheered, and commenced a spirited and close action; a short time, however, deprived me of the valuable services of Lieut. McGhee, who, from having his cables, bowsprit, and main boom shot away, drifted within the enemy's line, and was obliged to surrender. From the light airs and smoothness of the water, the fire on each side proved very destructive from the commencement of the engagement, and, with the exception of the brig, that of the enemy appeared united against the Confiance. After two hours severe conflict with our opponent, she cut her cable, run down, and took shelter between the ship and schooner, which enable us to direct our fire against the division of the enemy's gun-boats, and ship, which had so long annoyed us during our close engagement with the brig without any return on our part; at this time, the fire of the enemy's ship slackened considerably, having several of her guns dismounted, when she cut her cable and winded her starboard broadside to bear on the Confiance, who in vain endeavoured to effect the same operation. At thirty three minutes after ten, I was much distressed to observe the Confiance had struck her colours. The whole attention of the enemy's force then became directed toward the Linnet. The shattered and disabled state of the masts, sails, and rigging, and yards, precluded the most distant hope of being able to effect an escape by cutting the cable; the result of doing so must, in a few minutes, have been her drifting alongside the enemy's vessel, close under our lee; but, in the hope that the flotilla of gun-boats who had abandoned the object assigned them, would perceive our wants and come to our assistance, which would afford a reasonable prospect of being towed clear, I was determined to resist the then the destructive cannonading of the whole of the enemy's fleet, and at the same time dispatched Lieut. H. Drew to ascertain the state of the Confiance. At forty five minutes after ten, I was apprized of the irreparable loss she had sustained by the death of her brave commander (whose merits it would be presumption in me to extol) as well as the great slaughter which had taken place on board; and observing from the maneuvers of the flotilla, that I could enjoy no farther expectations of relief , the situation of my gallant comrades who had so nobly fought, and even now fast falling by my side, demanded the surrender of his Majesty's brig entrusted to my command, to prevent a useless waste of valuable lives, and, at the request of the surviving officers and men, I gave the painful orders for the colours to be struck. Lieut. Hicks of the Finch, had the mortification to strike on a reef of rocks to the Eastward of Crab Island., about the middle of the engagement, which prevented his rendering that assistance to the squadron that might, from an officer of such ability, have been expected. The misfortune this day befell us by capture, will, Sir, I trust, apologize for the lengthy detail which, in justice to the sufferers, I have deemed it necessary to give of the particulars which let to it; and, when it is taken into consideration that the Confiance was sixteen days before on the stocks, with an organized crew, composed of several drafts of men who had recently arrived from different ships at Quebec, many of whom had only joined the day before, and were totally unknown either to the officers or each other, with the want of gun-locks as well as other necessary appointments not to be procured in this country, I trust you will feel satisfied of the decided advantage the enemy possessed, exclusive of their great superiority in point of force. (he then goes on to complement the officers and men of the different ships) etc...Dan. Pring, Capt. late of H.M. sloop Linnet.

Statement of the enemy's squadron engaged with his Majesty's squadron on Lake Champlain, Sept. 11
Ship Saratoga, of 8 long twenty-four pounders, 12 thirty-two pounder carronades, 6 forty-two pound ditto; - Brig Eagle, of 8 long eighteen pounders, and 12 thirty-two pounder carronades. Schooner Ticonderoga of 4 long eighteen pounders, 10 twelve pounders, 3 thirty-two pounder carronades. Cutter Preble, of 7 long nine pounders. Six gun-boats of 1 long twenty-four pounder, 1 eighteen pounder carronade each. Impossible to ascertain number of men killed or wounded on board his Majesty's late squadron.

Confiance; 3 officers, 38 seamen and marines killed; 1 officer, 39 seamen and marines wounded. - Linnet, 2 officers, 8 seamen killed; 1 officer, 13 seamen and marines wounded. - Chubb, 6 seamen and marines killed, 1 officer and 15 seamen and marines wounded. - Finch, 2 seamen and marines wounded. Total 129. From the Confiance's crew having been landed immediately after the action, no opportunity has afforded a muster. The number stated is the whole as yet ascertained to have been killed and wounded. Name of officers killed and wounded: Confiance, George Downie, captain; Alex Anderson, captain of Royal Marines; William Gunn, midshipman. - Linnet, Wm Paul, acting lieutenant,, Charles Jackson boatswain; Wounded - Confiance, Lee, midshipman; Linnet, John Sinclair, midshipman; Chubb, Jas. McGhee, lieut.

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